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Weakness

“Weakness” and “foolishness” are things that we do not normally associate with God, but are specifically identified with Him in the New Testament. Throughout the testimony of Scripture, there is a consistent preference on the part of God for the weak, the despised, the second-born, the foolish, the least-likely. St. Paul reflects on this: “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are…” (1Cor. 1:26-28). Over the course of Christian history, forgetting this character of God’s revelation has led to repeated disasters. The great notorious heresies were often sponsored by emperors. Others were the work of those who imagined themselves to be wise. The abuse of power (which has been all too common in our history) has generally been “in the name of God,” even though God Himself clearly revealed the emptiness of such so-called power.” (Father Stephen Freeman)


“The life of Jesus Christ was the most extraordinary example of a human life in the history of the world. But most amazing is that His humility was His chief characteristic. The humility of Christ, demonstrated especially on the cross, cannot be appreciated by those who do not understand its power and who reject the cross as weakness or failure. By rejecting humility, we fail to recognize the power or purpose of the cross.” (Dr. Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou)


“…pride is often identified as the root of all sin and humility as the mother of all virtue. Today’s Scripture likewise teaches me, “Pride goes before destruction, / And a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18). Do I really believe this? Don’t I usually see humility as weakness and pride as strength? And don’t I even encourage myself to believe that way? After all, my surrounding culture teaches me to fight for my rights, to be assertive (even selfish), and to be somewhat obnoxiously proud of my achievements. Jesus Christ teaches the contrary: “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11).” (Archpriest Steven John Belonick)


“Those who think that they have it all in this world can easily convince themselves that all they need is a false god to congratulate them for their accomplishments and to serve their earthly agendas. But those whose eyes have been opened to the corruption within their souls and who are aware of the gravity of their sins know that they need merciful compassion beyond what they can give themselves. They know that they need a Savior Who conquers even death itself and turns the ultimate weakness of the grave into the triumph of an empty tomb. They need a Savior Who is not ashamed to remember even the most wretched repentant sinner in His Kingdom.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)


“St. Gregory says…that the heavenly powers came to know “God’s manifold wisdom, which marvelously works great wonders through opposites: how life came through death, righteousness through sin, blessing through curse, glory through disgrace, strength through weakness…Gregory that he devotes further lines to extolling it: This manifold form of wisdom, resulting from the plaiting together of opposites, is now clearly taught through the church: the Word becomes flesh, life is mixed with death, by his own bruises [Christ] heals our wounds, by the weakness of the Cross [He] overthrows the adversary’s power . . . He is in death and life does not depart from him, he is mixed with slavery and remains in kingship.” (Fr. John Behr)


“Virtue may be defined as the conscious union of human weakness with divine strength’...To explain, Maximus says that if we rely on our own capability as if our natural powers are our strength, we confuse our human works with virtue. On the other hand, if  we “do not make an effort” to receive divine help and “transcend human weakness” with the power of God, we will fall short of virtue.” (St. Maximus the Confessor, Fr. Basil) 


“God who alone judges the great events of history through the prism of eternity acts according to what is most expedient for our salvation. Sometimes this means that our prayers are not answered in the way we would have wanted or expected. At other times, we are allowed to experience various trials and difficulties which compel us to recognize and acknowledge our all too human weakness, and thus oblige us to ask for the help and support of His almighty power. Many of us have experienced a spiritual reawakening precisely when we found ourselves immersed in the crucible of pain and suffering. Human strength, exposed for what it is, evaporates at times like this; in this dark region of human experience not unlike what we are enduring these very days, we are compelled to reach out to God in our suffering, and we behold that “out of our weakness we begin to be made strong.” (Fr. Andrew Demotses)


“A careful study of St. Paul’s letters makes it clear that we are saved not by our strength (or even our common faith): we are saved by our weakness. Grace is only truly complete and in its fullness in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). Strangely, we fear that our weakness (in its various manifestations) will drive others away. In truth, if others are not with you in your weakness, they are not truly with you. We gladly celebrate our strengths, and place great store by our perceived talents. Those things bring us awards and congratulatory attention. But we do not enter into communion through such things – they do not reside in that faculty of the heart where communion can be found. The communion we have with Christ is, strikingly, through His shed blood and His broken body. In a similar fashion, our capacity for communion lines up most closely with that which is most vulnerable – and hence – always very close to the places of our own wounds.” (Father Stephen Freeman)


“When we have accomplished all we can by ourselves, God will fulfill what is lacking because of human weakness…God uses weaknesses if we embrace them and offer them to Christ that His power may be displayed through them.” (Origen, Dynamis 6/29/2018)


“Compassion is central to Christian thinking and we should view sin as human weakness worthy of compassion not just accountability… Jesus espoused love, compassion and accountability for our beliefs and actions while at the same time suffering and dying out of love for us.” (Sacramental Living)

“A careful study of St. Paul’s letters makes it clear that we are saved not by our strength (or even our common faith): we are saved by our weakness. Grace is only truly complete and in its fullness in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9)…I think that the lived reality of God’s-grace-in-our-weakness is largely absent in contemporary…Strangely, we fear that our weakness (in its various manifestations) will drive others away. In truth, if others are not with you in your weakness, they are not truly with you.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

"When I take a good look at my weaknesses, on the other hand, I actually find strength and motivation. Because self-examination leads me both to understand my deficiencies and to seek help from God and other people. This doesn’t mean “letting myself off the hook” or “lowering the bar.” An understanding of my particular sinful patterns helps me see them for what they are, and that is, changeable. I do change and grow as I seek and receive help, in prayer and humble openness to myself and others." (Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin)

“God is the vine, and we are only the branches. He is the Father, and we are the children; He is the physician and we are the patients in the need of healing. This is the kind of relationship we must cultivate, acknowledging our weakness and insignificance, and thereby allowing God to "over-take" us with His power, so that the delusions by which we have lived might be swept away, and in their place, God can assume His rightful place in our lives.” (Fr. Andrew Demotses)

“God meets you in your weakness, not in your strength. He comforts those who mourn, not those who live above desperation. He reveals Himself more often in darkness than in the happy moments of life.” (Dan Allender and Tremper Longman III)

“With all your weakness and helplessness, with all your frailties and infirmities, with all your sorrows and cares, He invites you to come to Him.” (John Dawson)

“It is often when we recognize our weaknesses that God’s strength becomes available.” (Life Application Study Bible, Psalms 102:3,4)

“...we do not need to let our weaknesses keep us from accomplishing great things for God, for God has the power and grace to turn our weakness into strength." (Joseph O'Day)

“Our faith and the values of this world are on a collision course. If we expect pain and suffering to come, we will not be shocked when they occur. We can take comfort in knowing that Jesus also suffered. He understands our fears, our weaknesses....He promised never to leave us...and he intercedes on our behalf....In times of pain, persecution, or suffering, trust confidently in Christ.” (Life Application Study Bible, 1 Thessalonians 1:6)

“While those in the grip of Christ’s love will never experience ultimate defeat, there is a profound sense in which we must face our struggles now knowing there may be no real relief this side of God’s new creation. We may wrestle with a particular weakness all our lives. But the call remains: Go into battle.” (Wesley Hill)

“God understands how weak our will is and how easily we are overwhelmed at times, so He sets others at our side. As we falter our friends are there to strengthen us and tug us back from the abyss” (Anne Marie Gazzolo)

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